A Tree’s Life citizen science project 2017-06-15T19:26:20-04:00

A Tree’s Life Tree-Banding Research Program

A Tree’s Life is a citizen science study of backyard tree growth in response to global climate change. Your tree can tell us a lot about forests of the future.

Participant Map

Check out our participant map below. The colored points highlight where A Tree’s Life tree bands have been installed. View a larger map.
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Participate in the Study

Tree band

A tree band in action! Photo: Michael Just

We seek participants to measure the growth of a red maple (Acer rubrum) trees in their yards. Large-scale data collection on tree growth is necessary to understand effects of warming and we need your help.

  • We’ll provide instructions and a plastic dendrometer band to measure the growth of your red maple
  • You’ll provide yearly tree growth data and some other details about your tree, like its location
  • We’ll keep you up to date with the project’s progress
  • Email a-trees-life@ncsu.edu with questions
Sign up to Join A Tree’s Life!

Resources for Study Participants

Dendrometer Installation Guide

A complete guide to your tree-banding kit, proper installation of your dendrometer, and how and when to send us data.

View the Dendrometer Installation Guide
Tree band
Data Entry Form

Enter dendrometer measurements and other information about your tree and upload project photos in this easy to use online form.

Data Entry Form

The Science Behind A Tree’s Life

Here are some of the critical services trees provide in our cities and natural ecosystems:

  • Filter air and water
  • Regulate local and global climates
  • Provide habitat for many species
  • Sequester carbon (reduce the amount of CO2 in the air)

With this study, we aim to understand how local climate and urbanization affect tree growth and carbon sequestration.

Urban environments are stressful places for trees to live, which can degrade their health. The urban heat island effect, water stress, and greater susceptibility to pests may all play a role. As the climate warms, we may see reduced growth rates of trees and reduced carbon sequestration. On the other hand, a longer growing season may benefit trees and increase carbon capture.

Most scientific studies examine the effects of warming on young trees, but adult trees are important for carbon sequestration.

  • Urban areas are warmer than less-developed or natural areas due to the urban heat island effect
  • Recent work has used urban trees as a way of studying the effect of warming on adult trees
  • Studies have found reduced growth rates for urban trees due to warmer temperatures and higher pest densities
A Tree’s Life is a citizen science program that democratizes the study of tree growth in response to global change. Participants will not only advance scientific discoveries, but will also have the opportunity to advance their own scientific understanding of trees and global change.